Glenn Beck vs. Keith Olbermann: Watching either of their shows brings us uncomfortably near the absolute epitome of douchebag, but alas, when push comes to shove, only one can be the victor. Here I will discuss their individual merits and try to determine who can rightfully claim the throne in all of its douche-filled glory. Honorable mentions go out to Bill O’Reilly, Rachel Maddow, Lou Dobbs, Nancy Grace, Chris Mathews, Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity. But when the chips are down, we all know that it is either Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck who will hold the crown of greatest douchebag in the history of the world.
Admittedly, during the Bush administration, I could enjoy Olbermann’s over-the-top rants a bit, and now with Obama, I can sometimes find Beck tolerable. I actually agree with Beck on most things domestic and with Olbermann on most foreign policy issues. Olbermann, while normally being a mouthpiece of the Obama administration, has occasionally criticized the Democrats and Beck has consistently attacked both parties. However, both Olbermann and Beck are so biased, so hyperbolic, so inconsistent and so utterly douche-baggish that merely enjoying the train wrecks that are their respective shows does not prove either to be any less of a train wreck.
Both can make ridiculous, often hypocritical claims. Olbermann defended Cash for Clunkers, probably the dumbest program ever. His evidence was that car sales went up. Wow, when the government pays people to buy cars, car sales go up. Who would have thought? The question of whether or not destroying our wealth to increase spending was a good economic policy was not addressed. (1)
He then agreed with his guest, Dan Gross, that because Republicans voted against the stimulus package, Cash for Clunkers and other government programs, “…they are heavily invested in its failure.” Of course, the same logic could be recklessly applied to Olbermann and those who opposed the war in Iraq. Since Olbermann opposed the war, is he “heavily invested” in the United States being defeated? (2)
Glenn Beck also went overboard with Cash for Clunkers, claiming that the government’s website, cars.gov, attempted to “access your computer” if you signed up. The site was however, only for car dealers. (3) And he is not above changing the past to fit a narrative of the day, once saying the “[the Iraq War] was never about Saddam Hussein or weapons of mass destruction, I mean that was a bonus, it was always about getting to Iran.” (4) Huh? If the war was about getting to Iran, why invade Iraq? After all, Iran has been the big winner since the United States ousted Iran’s top foe. (5)
But Glenn Beck makes his strongest case for being the ultimate bag of douche with his passionate, unrestrained rants of douche-baggery. Beck is the king of over-the-top melodrama: whether it be crying on screen or putting some quote on his blackboard just in case we forget it. My personal favorite, though, is the time he decided that since “we don’t look each other in the eyes anymore” he would do a split screen, with one screen on him and another with a close up shot of his eyes (which were strangely enough, not looking at the camera). (6)
Keith Olbermann, on the other hand, goes back and forth between unbearably unfunny attempts at humor and unhinged, self-righteous outrage. In an example of his uncanny ability to not provoke laughter, I give you this bit he did in a discombobulated and extraordinarily awkward attempt at making fun of Sarah Palin for writing notes on her hand before a speech. You must watch it to understand, I cannot explain it. The English language simply lacks the words to clarify how unfunny this is when a standard instructions manual amounts to a George Carlin standup routine in comparison:
When it comes to douche-soaked, self-righteous outrage, I refer you to Olbermann’s description of then Republican Senatorial candidate, Scott Brown:
“…In Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, tea-bagging supporter of violence against women and politicians with whom he disagrees.” (7)
Olbermann later apologized for not adding the word “sexist.” (Apparently someone can support violence against women without being sexist). Surprisingly, some people actually took offense to Olbermann’s characterization of Brown. And in fact, I did too. Olbermann forgot to mention that Scott Brown was also a fascist, war-mongering, child-abusing, corporate-controlled, Islamophobic, blood-sucking vampire who not only supports violence against women, but also men, hermaphrodites, Na’vi and every animal on the planet with the exception of nutria, termites, malaria-bearing mosquitoes, rabies-infected dogs and the infamous Man-Bear-Pig.
Back in reality though, Olbermann’s accusation that Brown is irresponsible is because he once swore in front of some high school students. Apparently, Olbermann failed to notice that he was using an explicit, sexual reference in his diatribe. Olbermann also swears on his show, while consistently bragging about how well his program does in the younger demographic (I should note that I make no claim of being ‘responsible’ myself). The accusation that Brown is in favor of violence against women—even though Brown has two young daughters—is because he said, “We can do this” after a guy at one of his rallies yelled out, “We should shove a curling iron up Martha Coakley’s butt!”
Okay Keith, aside from the fact that shoving a curling iron up someone’s butt is not really something “we can do,” it’s quite obvious that Scott Brown didn’t hear the man. And does Olbermann really expect Brown to disavow every crazy thing one of his supporters says? I mean honestly, have you ever heard what people say about politicians?
Of course, Glenn Beck is no opponent of baseless name-calling and random conjecture. From claiming he couldn’t “debunk” the theory of FEMA death camps to an assortment of other, often contradictory, conspiracy theories, Glenn Beck is all about name-calling and conjecture. (8) Perhaps the most infamous was his accusation that Barack Obama has a “…a deep seated hatred for white people.” One minute and 22 seconds later he recanted, saying “I’m not saying that he doesn’t like white people” after he was challenged by the fact that some 70% of Obama’s administration is white. Unfortunately, for consistency’s sake, five seconds later he then said again Obama is “..I think, a racist.” (9) At least Beck was able to avoid crying this time.
But baseless name-calling is secondary to outright lying. And while both are extremely biased, I have never seen Beck, nor anyone else for that matter, do what Olbermann did regarding the so-called “climategate.” Olbermann accused the show Fox and Friends of taking a clip from Jon Stewart out of context, which Olbermann himself took out of context. Honestly, I’ve seen people take others out of context, but never have I seen someone take something out of context, while accusing others of doing so.
Fox and Friends showed the first bit of a Jon Stewart segment where he jokingly says global warming is completely debunked. Then Keith Olbermann showed a little more where Jon Stewart said the leaked emails weren’t a big deal, it was just scientists talking casually. But Olbermann conveniently left out the next part, where Jon Stewart goes over a handful of the more outrageous emails. While Stewart does say the emails don’t debunks global warming, he does conclude the following about the emails:
“[The scientist] was just using a trick to hide the decline. [It’s] just scientist speak for using a standard statistical technique to recalibrate data to trick you and hide the decline.”
But at least Olbermann doesn’t abuse his guests. Nothing he’s done can compare to Beck losing his mind at a caller about healthcare. Again, the written word can do no justice here. You must see it:
While that is quite damning to those who would argue Glenn Beck is actually sane, it does tell us something good about him; namely, that he is willing to at least talk (if you can call it that) to people who disagree with him. I think the problem with Beck is that his frontal lobe inhibitors aren’t functioning properly and thus he pretty much says whatever comes to mind in all of its driftless, tear-soaked, conspiratorial, stream-of-conscious, douche-baggishness. But he does debate people. I even have video evidence of Beck debating people, for example here.
I cannot say the same for Keith Olbermann. Sure, when he’s challenged, he’ll use his television show to launch a string of invective at whoever dared speak ill of him, albeit usually in the way befitting the most douche-baggish of douchebags. For example, when Ann Coulter pointed out that Olbermann didn’t graduate from the Ivy League Cornell University, but an affiliated university, Keith Olbermann decided it was a good idea to bring out his framed diploma to show his audience (I kid you not) in an attempt to prove that he did, in fact, graduate from the university that Coulter accused him of graduating from. (10)
But that doesn’t count for actual debate. It is truly a brave form of cowardice to have a “worst person in the world” segment every show without ever having anyone on who would disagree with him on anything. It’s actually quite funny to watch when someone who basically agrees with Olbermann on everything says something that may, in some way, kind of contradict his line of thinking. Take this clip, where Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean explains why it’s out of line for Republicans to call the president a fascist, even though Olbermann had called George Bush just that many times before. Of course, Olbermann sounded more dignified by calling the president a fascist in between random quotes from Bertrand Russell and Oliver Cromwell.
In the end, the willingness to debate is what makes the difference. Glenn Beck may ramble on, between sobs, about inane connections he’s written on his wholly-unnecessary chalk board, but he’s willing to talk to people he disagrees with. He’s even changed his mind on several issues, such as marijuana legalization. (11) Olbermann instead hides behind his television show to launch hypocritical and illogical vitriol at those he refuses to give a chance to respond. And for that, Keith Olbermann is victorious. Congratulations Keith, you are the biggest douchebag on the planet.
(1) “ ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ for Monday, August 3, August 3, 2009, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32284299/
(3) For Beck’s segment see “Glenn Beck: Cars.gov allows government to takeover your computer,” uploaded July 31, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWs12ccbOiE and for what it actually means see Hugh D’Andrade, “Cars.gov Terms of Service: What Glenn Beck Gets Right and Wrong,” August 3, 2009, http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/08/cars-gov-terms-service
(4) “Beck: Iraq “was always about getting to Iran” & WMD’s bonus,” uploaded April 5, 2007, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUbBbGVF6Q8
(5) For a good, albeit rather old, rundown of Iran winning by the Iraq War is Juan Cole, “The Iraq war is over, and the winner is… Iran,” Salon Magazine, July21, 2005, http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/07/21/iran
(6) See “Beck Wants You to Look Deep Into His Eyes,” Uploaded February 4, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex695VSHmSs
(7) “Olbermann’s “Apology” To Scott Brown,” Uploaded January 19, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydNY-9xNzB0&feature=related
(8) “Glenn Beck’s FEMA Backflip,” Uploaded April 4, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izjfdfDHjWQ
(9) “Glenn Beck: Obama is a RACIST! Hates White Folks!,” Uploaded July 28, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ndc2LX2u98&feature=related
(10) For Coulter’s article, see Ann Coulter, “Olbermann’s Platic Ivy,” Townhall.com, March 4, 2009, http://townhall.com/columnists/AnnCoulter/2009/03/04/olbermanns_plastic_ivy and for Olbermann’s bit “defending himself” and the subsequent lampooning on Fox’s Red Eye, see “Olbermann is So Insecure, I Pity Him,” Uploaded March 7, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5qgQ_71M2c
(11) “Glenn Beck Legalize Marijuana & Stop The Violence,” Uploaded March 3, 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFmtirw5io8